AskDefine | Define buzzer

Dictionary Definition



1 a push button at an outer door that gives a ringing or buzzing signal when pushed [syn: doorbell, bell]
2 a signaling device that makes a buzzing sound

User Contributed Dictionary



(US) IPA: /ˈbʌzər/


to buzz + -er


  1. a device that makes a buzzing sound
    • If you think you know the answer to the question, hit the buzzer as fast as you can.
  2. anything that buzzes, such as an insect
    • 1895, George Meredith, The Amazing Marriage
      ... it left, however, a bee at his ear and an itch to transfer the buzzer's attentions and tease his darling; for she had betrayed herself as right good game.



Extensive Definition

A buzzer or beeper is a signalling device, usually electronic, typically used in automobiles, household appliances such as a microwave oven, or game shows.
It most commonly consists of a number of switches or sensors connected to a control unit that determines if and which button was pushed or a preset time has lapsed, and usually illuminates a light on the appropriate button or control panel, and sounds a warning in the form of a continuous or intermittent buzzing or beeping sound. Initially this device was based on an electromechanical system which was identical to an electric bell without the metal gong (which makes the ringing noise). Often these units were anchored to a wall or ceiling and used the ceiling or wall as a sounding board. Another implementation with some AC-connected devices was to implement a circuit to make the AC current into a noise loud enough to drive a loudspeaker and hook this circuit up to a cheap 8-ohm speaker. Nowadays, it is more popular to use a ceramic-based piezoelectric sounder like a Sonalert which makes a high-pitched tone. Usually these were hooked up to "driver" circuits which varied the pitch of the sound or pulsed the sound on and off.
In game shows it is also known as a "lockout system," because when one person signals ("buzzes in"), all others are locked out from signalling. Several game shows have large buzzer buttons which are identified as "plungers".
The word "buzzer" comes from the rasping noise that buzzers made when they were electromechanical devices, operated from stepped-down AC line voltage at 50 or 60 cycles. Other sounds commonly used to indicate that a button has been pressed are a ring or a beep. Some systems, such as the one used on Jeopardy!, make no noise at all, instead using light. Another example is the buzzer at the end of each stage in Sasuke, Kunoichi, and Viking. These buzzers do not make a sound or turn on a light; instead, they stop a nearby digital clock, briefly fire two smoke cannons on each side of the stage exit, and open the exit. However, at the end of the Heartbreaker in Viking, the buzzer is replaced with a sword that, when removed, causes two contacts to touch, closing the circuit and causing the latter two actions above to occur.
buzzer in German: Buzzer
buzzer in Spanish: Zumbador
buzzer in Polish: Brzęczyk
buzzer in Russian: Зуммер
buzzer in Turkish: Buzzer

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Klaxon, Mayday, SOS, air-raid alarm, alarm, alarm bell, alarm clock, alarm signal, alarum, alert, all clear, beacon, blinking light, burglar alarm, crostarie, fiery cross, fire alarm, fire bell, fire flag, five-minute gun, flashing light, fog bell, fog signal, foghorn, gale warning, hooter, horn, hue and cry, hurricane warning, lighthouse, note of alarm, occulting light, police whistle, signal of distress, siren, small-craft warning, still alarm, storm cone, storm flag, storm warning, tocsin, two-minute gun, upside-down flag, whistle
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